For those who have been with us for a while, you’ll know that we’ve reviewed the Conscious Choice line up of spicy pickles, featuring Harold’s 2X and 4X Habanero Pickles, and The Beer Pickle, all three boasting a load of spiciness in varying degrees. It sounds like Harold got a soft spot for himself and decided he wanted to make a pickle for the “Sissy” level here. You’ll notice in the review that the word Sissy is emphasized on the title, and that’s because that word is struck through on the product label, which confuses me a bit. I have to ask myself, did it get struck through and then renamed to Sweet Pickles, which means this is going to be really mild or was it always called Sissy Sweet Pickles, and the word was marked out to indicate that it’s not the Sissy level at all, and is going to hurt me way beyond my expectations?
Cucumbers, Water, Vinegar, Sugar, Onion, Habanero Peppers, Salt, Citric Acid
The pickles themselves are the typical large chunk cut that Harold likes to do, with each piece being roughly half an inch to three quarters of an inch thick. One of the things different I’m noticing here is that there seems to be about half an inch of sliced onions in the bottom of the jar. There is a very noticeable difference from Harold’s other products in the aroma, as there’s none of that savory and spicy brine scent to the jar at all, but rather a sweet and tart scent of sweetened vinegar, similar to bread-and-butter style pickles. Even though habanero bits are visibly floating at the bottom of the jar with the onion and is listed in the ingredient list, there is no noticeable aroma of anything spicy, but you do get a light citrus scent, which may come from the habanero.
The first bite is a fairly sweet and mildly tart bite, with a nice healthy crunch to it, and surprisingly you actually get a little bit of that habanero spice coming through finally, even though it was absent in the aroma. It’s not a blow away heat level, and you should be able to feed these to the average non-chilehead in your life, and I’d rate it as a strong Medium. I like the play on the tongue that you get in which the tart and spicy elements on the back and the sweet up in the front. The sweetness is nice in that it’s a little bit savory and that the syrup for this mix isn’t heavy, so you aren’t getting a huge sugar bomb from it either. The balance is really pleasant, and I enjoy the pickles quite a bit, but I’m going to run with a Nice rating on this, because the taste notes from mustard seed and turmeric that I really enjoy about this style of pickle is missing, and make me feel like there’s just a missing layer of flavor to this that I would look forward to if I were looking at it on a grocery shelf. To sum this up, both of my estimations were off. Even though there is more heat in this than planned, it is decidedly a sweet pickle with just a little extra kick.
Update on the heat level: I’m holding to the medium rating, but I am starting to notice that as you knock down a few of these, the stacking effect is starting, where each following piece is hotter than the last, so looks like if you want the burn, just double up on the volume of pickle you are eating and you’ll get a consistently sweet, but slightly spicier experience. Also, don’t throw out the onions at the bottom; they are just as enjoyable as the actual pickles.